Understanding Vibration – #1 The Basics of Vibration

To understand vibration, we’ll need to cover off some of the basics so we’re all on the same page.

In engineering, as you’ll know, there are two broad types of stresses: static and dynamic. Static stresses are generally weights and loads without movement – the weight of an accessway on a roof, for example, or the pressure of one level of a building on the structure. Static stresses are the focus of deflection, buckling, yielding and slippage analyses.

Dynamic stresses are forces that vary – that’s a periodic or oscillating stress, including vibration. Here, vibration can cover everything from the music from speakers to the hum of an engine through the steering wheel and the seismic forces on a building. Vibration is the focus of time-dependent analyses, like fatigue.

Vibrations have a magnitude and a frequency. The magnitude is the size of the wave, or how intense the pattern of stress is. It’s basically the volume. The frequency is the rate at which the pattern of stress or pressure goes back and forth; it’s the pitch of the musical note, how high or low it is.

While frequency can be measured in hertz (Hz) – named after famed electromagnetic physicist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz – we’re more likely to see it measured in revolutions (or cycles) per minute (RPM)

since RPM tends to give a better representation of frequency for most engineering-based situations.

Depending on the circumstances, it may make more sense to describe a motor as running at 1000 RPM than at 16.67 Hz.

While there’s a lot of complex physics we could cover, our focus is on how vibration is going to affect engineering design, and what good architects can do about minimising and isolating vibration in their designs.

Unfortunately, vibration is often overlooked or oversimplified, even by some of the greatest architects and engineers. Download the ebook to make sure you’re prepared for vibrations in any form they come.

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